GBCS Applauds Change in Immigration Policy

January 12, 2012

Change would improve possibility for undocumented immigrants to keep their families together.

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The United Methodist General Board of Church & Society (GBCS) sent a statement to the White House this week applauding the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) decision to enable some undocumented immigrant children and spouses to reunite with their U.S.-citizen family members.
 
DHS's proposed change would enable undocumented immigrants with a U.S.-citizen spouse or parent to interview for a provisional waiver while still in the United States. If found eligible to receive the waiver, they then would return to their home country for final "green card" processing.
 
"Though thousands of immigrant families have experienced the brutality of record numbers of deportations by the Obama administration," GBCS says in a statement released Jan. 11, "we hope this change in policy will finally make it easier for thousands of American families with mixed immigration status to remain permanently together."
 
The statement points out that The United Methodist Church has long advocated for reunifying immigrant families and against separating them through deportation and indefinite detention.
 
GBCS emphasizes that just and humane immigration reform "first and foremost treats immigrants with dignity and respect, provides a pathway to legal status for undocumented immigrants, and reunites families."
 
Under current policy and an emphasis on harsh enforcement, families have been torn apart or have remained permanently separated, according to GBCS. One way this occurs is when a family-based green card becomes available and undocumented immigrants must return to their country of origin to receive the visa. To return to the United States, they need to obtain a waiver from the U.S. government.
 
If the government denies the waiver for any reason, however, they could possibly be barred from returning to the United States for three or 10 years. "Some families wait years or even decades to reunite with their loved ones," the agency points out.
 
The revised policy would not help undocumented parents with U.S.-citizen children, but the agency says the updated policy is a "much-needed improvement to current U.S. immigration policy."
 
GBCS stresses that Congress and the Obama administration still need to reform the immigration system. "The announcement from DHS represents a positive step to help keep families together," the agency says.
 
Read the statement here.